Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better

This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.

June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer

While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster.  Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.

Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.

But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.

It’s good Dauntless music.

But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba.  And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.

But then he really made his  name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.

 

I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.

Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him.  From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.

That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months.  There are still a few projects to complete.  My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska.  Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)

I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.

Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.

Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case.  Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.

So in my case, I came up with 17 feet.  This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.

So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side.  Sounds like a no-brainer right?  Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.

What could go wrong?  Am I not being 50% safer?  That’s what a politician would try to tell you.

No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.

In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear.   While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.

Crossing the North Sea

But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow.  The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.

Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down.  If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.ocean wave

Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up.  Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water.  Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.

So less is not always better.

And now, I will show you why more is not always better either.  Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.

I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.

The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy.  I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.

We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.

Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.

Dauntless on a mooring in Scotland

 

Atlantic Passage 2016 Videos

I am writing a piece on getting seasick and I wanted to include some of the videos I had made just before I got sick. My point being that I’m not sure it is seasickness per se.

In looking for the videos, I realized that while I had posted a link to them in my smugmug site, https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless/Dauntless-Atlantic-2016-Videos/

I’d never posted some of them here.

So here they are:

 Day 13, Stbd deck view, seas 8 to 15 feet. An average day.

 Day 14, View from the fly bridge looking east.

 Day 14, I’m replacing the hydraulic hose in the lazzerette.
We are dead in the water and Micah didn’t like looking aft at waves that towered over the boat and then disappeared, as we bobbed on top of the wave. (View of seas at 2:40).

 Day 14, I show the new hose.

 Day 16, On our more steady days, we’d play a board game, in which I had glued a piece of non skid rubber to the bottom of the pieces.

  Day 16, The only ship we encountered in the 3 week trip.
Thank you AIS (for he avoided us).

Day 16, Our well travelled Kadey Krogen Flag on it’s second Atlantic Crossing

 Day 16, Christmas, one of our best days.
We had great steak dinner and had a whale with us for awhile. 

 Day 16, Our Christmas whale

 Day 16, Christmas Dinner.
I got “seasick” as soon as I finished cooking.

Day 14, the Maretron data showing 8 hours of Rolling (right) and 4 days of pitch (sorry I did not make the time frames the dame). The rolling graph also clearly shows the 30 minutes or so we were stopped, while I replaced the hose (between hr 4&5). Also, please note that while it seems rolling is the same or increased while stopped in the water, the paravanes have no effect when stopped. Therefore, if underway without paravanes, the rolling would be about double under these following seas condition (when the paraveanes are least effective).

 

 

 

Time Waits for No One

I was on schedule, the one I’d made month’s earlier. It was June 10th.

So Calif from SD to Channel Islands The missing segment north of San Diego to Oceanside, is simply Garmim, being Garmin.

460 nm to go to our winter home of Vallejo, close compared to only a month ago, but now time was getting compressed. My hard, drop dead dates were also much closer.  July 6th was the hardest one, my flight from Austin Texas back to SGN, Saigon, HCMC, Vietnam.

Airline tickets can always be changed, but at a price and I was tired of just pissing money away.

CE chart off CA coast to Channel Islands Please don’t get confused. Channel Islands Harbor is NOT in the Channel Islands. But instead is just south of Oxnard on the mainland. That’s California just being California.

I also had a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd, that I really, really wanted to attend. Three years earlier, I’d crossed the stormy North Sea to get back to Ireland in time to meet my dear friend Jennifer, who was coming to Ireland just to see Dauntless. I’d known her since she was 8 years old. Now, she had met the love of her life and was getting married. I had to be there.

I also wanted, needed to go to Fairbanks, Alaska before I left the USA

I’d already arranged the marina for the winter, in Vallejo California.

It was simply going to be a busy month, but doable if the weather cooperated.

Entering Channel Islands harbor, which is NOT in the Channel Islands. But instead is just south of Oxnard on the mainland. That’s California just being California.

The most recent version of the plan had Dauntless and I getting to Vallejo by the 17th, flying to SLC on the 21st, then onto Fairbanks on the 25th, ending in Austin, Texas on the 3rd. I have good friends there and it so happens that the plane ticket to Vietnam is significantly cheaper if it starts in Austin (or other smaller markets) then NY or Detroit, even though my routing goes thru Detroit.

What are friends and family for? Friends and family are there to talk you out of stupid ideas or better said: to help you see the better plan.

Kyoko’s beautiful house in Channel Islands harbor

My friends, Mike and Adrianna, who now also have a Kadey Krogen 42, called While Knuckles, had suggested earlier that I stay in southern California longer. The reason I had resisted was that that plan upset my sense of completion: let’s get Dauntless settled, then travel.

The Pacific off the Southern California coast, south of Santa Barbara, has significantly better cruising weather. The winds are still predominately from the NW, but more like 50% of the time versus 90% further south. In addition, there are long periods of light & variable winds. Perfect cruising weather.

Dauntless from Kyoko’s house

And that’s what we had for the next five days.

Mike and Adrianna keep their boat in front of a friend house in Channel Islands harbor. They spoke to their friend, Kyoto, and she was happy to have my Kadey Krogen there, while White Knuckles was in Ensenada having some extensive upgrades taken care of.

The weather was also changing. It became clear that I would have to wait to do the last 270 miles from Point Conception to the Golden Gate and Vallejo. So, I took

Dauntless in front of Kyoko’s house

Mike and Kyoko up on their offer to keep Dauntless there as long as I needed, while I:

  1. Waited for weather
  2. Attended the wedding and
  3. Flew to Fairbanks and back
  4. Spent more money on tools and spares at Harbor Freight

I had to change one place ticket, but this was a much better plan. I was able to travel to the wedding and then Alaska knowing Dauntless was in good hands with sharp eyes watching out for her. I really appreciated the hospitality and it made for great 10 days

.

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Harbor Freight is Wonderful

,

An Eventful Passage

Only an hour and a half after leaving the wonderful little stop of Marina Chahue, Dauntless’ winter home, we were underway once again. I wanted nothing more than an uneventful passage. I was so appreciative of Mark and Brian stepping up and volunteering as crew, so I wanted them to have a good time too with no worries.

Beginning of Day 2, 07:53
End of Day 1, First night, 04:45

Now I realize, that having a “good” time varies greatly from person to person, but in general, being on the open ocean is peaceful. It can be the epitome of serenity itself, unless there are nagging issues.

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Beginning of Day 2, morning after the first night, 07:53

Dauntless was suffering from abuse. In the pervious two years, I’d ridden her hard and put her way wet. I loved this Kadey Krogen so much because I could do exactly that. The leak in the heat exchanger was the first “must stop the engine” problem I’d had since the middle of the Atlantic! That was more than 5,000 miles and 18 months ago.

End of Day 1, First night, 05:51

This boat was made to take a beating and keep on ticking. But just as rough seas bothered me far more than Dauntless, the little problems on the periphery did the same. They kept me in a state of what’s next?

We spent the next 40 hours going west. I’ll explain why in more detail in the upcoming post, Chasing Weather Forecasts, but for now it suffices to say that I wanted to be 60 miles off the coast.

We were also running a bit harder than usual; the Ford Lehman was purring along at 1800 rpms. Maybe the purr was more of a growl to me, but it was important that we make good time while we had favorable winds, in this case they were WSW at 5 knots and we were making 7 knots.

The primary reason I don’t run at 1800 rpms is the significant decrease in efficiency from 1500 to 1800 rpms. Here are my estimated numbers in a flat sea:

 Kadey Krogen 42-148 w Ford Lehman Sp135 & 4 Blade Prop
 RPMs  Gal/hr  Avg Sp Range
700  Kts nm
  1,800     2.00       7.2   2,520
  1,700     1.75       6.9   2,760
  1,600     1.55       6.6   2,981
 1,500     1.40       6.2   3,100
  1,400     1.25       5.7   3,192
  1,300     1.10       5.3   3,373

 

Thus, for a 16% increase in speed from 1500 rpms @ 6.2 kts, we consume 43% more fuel. That’s fuelish.

By early morning on the second day out, we turned northwest, on a heading that would parallel the coast until we could turn further north in a couple more days. Winds were still OK, from the north at 10 knots, thus on our beam, but not strong.

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Evening of the of Second Day

By the end (48 hours underway) of the second day, we had covered 320 nm for an average of 6.7 knots. The pitching and rolling had been minimal, pitch less than 3° up or down and rolling less than 5° in either direction (always greater to lee side).

Day 2, 24 hr since departure
Evening of the of Second Day, 19:48
End of Second night, early morning, 04:25

But then it all started to change. From the beginning there was a smallish weather window, from 2 to 3 days. Now, during our third night, that window was closing. Winds picked up to 320° @ 12 knots, so only 15° off the starboard bow (our course being 304°). Pitching increased to +4 (this is downward as measured by the Maretron Solid State Compass (which the autopilot uses too since it reacts better than the flux gate compass) and a more significant, -12° (bow pitching upward).

This was getting uncomfortable. For my intrepid crew, they took it in stride, far better than I.

The third night, 03 May 03:32 Maretron data shows the pitch lower left graph (each unit is about 4 degrees of pitch).

Our watches were set so that I would get 6 hours sleep overnight. Brian and Mark covered 21:00 to 04:00 as they saw fit.

End of the third night, 3 hours after last picture, ride is better, but winds are picking up, now at 9 knots, but gusting to 16 ( upper row, middle, telltale on the winds)

Before going to sleep that night, I did discuss with them the issue of weather. Our weather window was not only closing, but the forecast was for increasing winds right on our nose for the foreseeable future. While I was still hoping to get to Cabo direct from here, that was still 3+ days away. 12 knots on the bow is tolerable, 15 is borderline and 18 is a no-go.

Sunrise on Day 4

They were up for it; as I went to bed that evening, I wasn’t sure I was.

I awoke 3 hours later. The boat was pounding, not constantly, but on every third pitch. Pounding to me is when the boat slams into a wave, like hitting a log. Thump.

I tried to go back to sleep. The master cabin in the Kadey Krogen is forward and the only downside is that this pitching motion is most apparent there.  However, it usually doesn’t bother me. My first experience with a corkscrew movement was a few years before Dauntless came into our lives. We were sailing (literally) with my Dutch friends, Jan and Karin, in the Outer Hebrides, west of Scotland. Anchored in a rolly harbor off of St Kilda, that night I felt, dreamt, that I was sleeping on a roller coaster. The rhythmic corkscrew motion I found almost soothing. I slept well.

But this was different. The pounding bothered me. Things break with that sudden, jarring movement (and in fact it was during these days that the pressure switch stopped working on my fresh water pump. I later discovered it only had soldered connection which came apart).

My sleep became very fitful, waking every 10 to 15 minutes, my mid seemingly wanting to figure out what was going on. Finally, I turned on the light and tried to figure out the pattern the boat was in. For 30 minutes I measured the frequency of the pounding. On virtually every third pitch, which were 8 d=seconds apart, the boat would pound hard, every 25 to 28 seconds.

I also knew that which these seas, pitching movement, unlike rolling, takes significant power. In other words, instead of going 7 knots, we were now going 5.5, but using the same fuel as if we were going 7.

At 5.5 knots, it would take 100 hours to get to Cabo, that’s 4+ days of this crap. That was impossible.

I decided to start my watch early, figure out if we could mitigate the ride and if not, determine my options.

First thing I did, after I got the lay of the land, was to reduce rpms to 1650 and change course by 10° to the west. This put the seas on the stbd bow. Weirdly, our speed just slowed a tad to 6.0 from 6.1 (we also have currents off the Mexico coast, which are both tidal and non-tidal).

Significantly our pitch was reduced by almost 50%. I liked that. Even more importantly, the pounding stopped.

I could live with these conditions.

Alas, they were not to stay.

Just before sunrise, around 05:00, the winds increased to 330° @ 12 gusting to 16. This increased the pitch +4 to -8° and the roll +10 to -9°. I further reduced the rpms to 1590. Over the next couple of hours, Mother Nature started to mock me. The winds backed around to 290°, right on our nose again.

At 08:00 the winds were steady at 300°12 to 14 knots. I knew they would only get stronger during the day (the sun heating the air and land do cause the winds after all).  This was also in line with the forecast of increasing winds over the next few days.

At 08:45, I informed the crew that we were changing course and would head to Xtapa, a little town with a nice marina just north of Zihuantanejo. This would mean a bit of backtracking. We were already north of Xtapa; however, the other alternative was Manzanillo, which was 113 nm at 330°. With the seas on our bow, increasing winds, it would take us 24 hours to get there. Whereas, Xtapa, at a heading of 065° would put the seas behind us and we should have a quick 12-hour ride. So long, because we were 70 miles offshore.

It ended up taking 14+ hours, but after pounding into the seas for 10 hours, who noticed.

Passing thru the shipping lanes, it was nice to have the Digital Yacht AIS transceiver.  It allowed us all to avoid one another.

14 hours later, at 23:00, we entered yet another unknown harbor and docked in the dark, at Marina Xtapa

What else is new.

I did get a good night’s sleep.

Four hours after we made the turn to head to Xtapa, we are bracketed by two freighters. Again AIS transciever makes this easy for ALL concerned.
Depiction on Coastal Explorer
Four hours after we made the turn to head to Xtapa, we are bracketed by two freighters. Again AIS transciever makes this easy for ALL concerned
What it looks like looking out the window
What it looks like looking out the window
The Maretron data shows how much better the ride became, though rolling continues.
The Maretron data shows the four days of Pitching and Rolling. The last day before we turned to the east was untenable with pitching as much as 20 degrees.

 

 

 

 

Laptop Dead as a Doornail

My HP Envy Laptop died a few weeks ago. Add poor internet connections, so I have no been able to even write about the trials and tribulations of the last 4 weeks.

As yo can see at Share.Delore.com/Dauntless I’m still in Cabo, but am planning on leaving Sunday morning before noon.

But then I tried to leave last Sunday also, but Mother Nature turned me back and made me see the error of my ways.

I’m hoping she’s in a better mood tomorrow. If not may have to start sacrificing goats or pigs or something.

 

Return to Huatulco

I could call this, Mexico Just Works, at least this part.

The Bahias of Huatulco

As international trips of 3,000+ miles go, this was by far one of the easiest ever! 13 hours after wake-up at oh-dark-thirty, I was being dropped off at my hotel in Huatulco. Hotel Balcon Gueela turned out to be a really nice, comfortable place to stay while Dauntless gets her bottom painted. The sense of relief was palpable. Which got me to thinking, why such angst? I’ve travelled 24 hours to get to and from Vietnam, but other than relief that the trip was finally over, I never experienced fear before.

I’ve crossed two and a half oceans by now. I’ve spent a few too many hours being miserable, but never afraid.

HUX – Huatulco Airport

So why now, why this underlying angst in traveling to Mexico?  I’d been in a dozen of airports and train stations this past year. Why the angst now? When I arrived at baggage claim in Mexico City from my New York flight, I had 3 hours for my connecting flight to Huatulco. I assumed I’d pick up my bag, go thru customs and immigration, then recheck it for Huatulco.

That’s the routine at most ports of entry. But not here. Here upon arrival at baggage claim, I was approached by a nice, uniformed lady, who asked my point of origin and when informed it was NY, she asked to see my boarding pass with claim stub and pointed out that my bag was checked through to Huatulco. Duh. I travelled 90,000 air miles last year.  One would think I would have thought to check at some stage of this process, especially at the onset, when the bag tag was affected to my bag. It’s always nice to make sure one’s bag is going on the same trip as you are!

Though at that moment of check-in, 05:00, I was distracted by the realization that my 07:00 flight was really at 08:00.  The 7 a.m. time must have been the time I told myself to be at the airport. But somewhere in my little mind, that got fixed at the departure time. I had stayed with friend’s in Brooklyn to be close to the airport. I hadn’t slept that well because I had bad toothache (needed a root canal) and I was just nervous about he whole trip. So, I ended up leaving the house at 04:00, and was checking in, an hour later, having returned the rental car full of gas and taken the JFK tram.

So, another rookie mistake, not even confirming my flight time.

Why was I so nervous? The toothache certainly didn’t help, but still.

While there was no customs inspection (NAFTA?), I did have to go through immigration. But even this routine, simple task, seemed beyond me. First, I did not have the right form. I had a customs form, which I didn’t need, but was never given the immigration form I did need. OK, no problem, says the immigration officer, “go to that desk and complete form and return here”.

Five minutes later, he looks at my just completed form and shows me the bottom half I had not filled out. This time, he directs me to a desk closer to him, as I clearly need supervision, though more likely, he was just trying to save me time and reduce my frustration/confusion.

Third time is the charm. I get my requisite stamps and I’m off to the lounge to wait two hours. Airline lounges are pretty much the same, but I was nervous beyond words; looking over my shoulder constantly. Now, those who know me, know I am the most trusting person on the planet, possibly in the entire solar system. And naïve too, as my stint in the Bronx was to prove.

A couple hours later, walking down the air stairs, looking around at the quaint, little Huatulco airport, I felt a large load was lifted off my shoulders. The walk from the plane to the terminal, took about 4 minutes. During this walk, I noticed the baggage train was going to beat us to the terminal. My bag was on the first pass of the carousel as I walked in. I grabbed it, noticed a nice lady standing at a podium with a big sign that said, official taxis, walked up and she gave me my options for the 20-minute ride to Huatulco and my hotel. I could have a private taxi for $25 or go in the group van for $9.  I took the cheaper route.

Outside the airport. Just go to the stall number on your receipt ti find the right taxi or van. Mexico Just Works

The whole process, the entire trip from the time I got up at 03:30, left JFK to arrival at my hotel in Huatulco, could not have been easier. Everything was simple and in Mexico, helpful people always appeared just when you had that first confused look on your face. Mexico just works.

It was at that point when it finally dawned on me the reason for my angst.  What was that load that was taken off my shoulders? It was simply that I hadn’t been killed during my travel in Mexico. No, I wasn’t taking a bus through the countryside in the middle of the night, but clearly, I had been afraid. Not until I was in the familiar Huatulco, did I feel safe.

This was totally irrational, I’ve been in a million places more dangerous than the Mexico City airport!

Where did this fear come from? I’ve been thinking about this for a week now.

My “news” information is purposely limited, as I have come to understand that “news” is not as objective as I once assumed. Remember, I did say I was naïve. I had a bad experience with the print media as a high school principal in the Bronx, NY. The Chief Editor of this newspaper, told my boss, that he was directed to print a story that was nothing more than character assassination, meant to embarrass and defame me. I knew who wrote it, as it was carefully written, as to not be accountable to her, but then she was crazy and had no problem saying the most outrageous things. She wrote this kind of stuff routinely.

The end result is that I stopped reading the New York newspapers. So now, I only read the Wall Street Journal, Science News and sometimes the Guardian from England.

I certainly don’t read anything that purports to be “news” on the internet. In fact, once I discovered that there are numerous pictures of big ships in tremendous waves online that are photoshopped, I realized you can’t even trust what you see online.

Even though I avoid sensationalism, it was still in my mind that Mexico was this dangerous place that made me afraid, in a totally irrational manner.  So even a seasoned traveler like myself can get caught up in the hype with no sense of reality.  This was made all the more “unreal” to me in that my interactions with any Mexicans, in New York, the USA or even in Mexico! have been outstanding.  I’ve never had a bad experience. Ever. Can’t say that about almost any other place, even Canada (they can’t get it out of their heads that not every American has an arsenal of guns!).

And I never watch those weather shows with their drumbeat of death and destruction. Gimme a break. Get a life.

 

 

Everything is Swell

In one of my recent posts I talked about my use of Windy.com and how much I like the GUI they have developed. It’s an easy way to look at the two-main worldwide weather forecasting numerical models, the GFS and the ECMWF.

The mid-Atlantic on 11 March 2018 as depicted on Windy.com

Almost a year ago today, I wrote the post “The Atlantic is a Harsh Mistress”.  This was my first reaction to the reality of what we experienced versus the anticipation of what I expected.

I had read so many accounts of boats crossing oceans.  Not having any experience, myself I was not sensitive to the subtle differences of the trade wind Pacific versus the Atlantic.

Hey, it’s the trade winds, characterized by strong steady winds and large, 15 to 30-foot-long period waves.

Easy Peasey, as Micah was fond of saying.

I’d just read an account of Kadey Krogen 42 doing the much longer passage from the California to the South Pacific and Australia. Their only problem was boredom and they ran out of Coca Cola. I wouldn’t have those issues.  Having lived in Europe on and off for years, I’d long ago learned it best to wean myself off American products.  And boredom, not when I had countless hours of Korean Dramas and a crew mate in Micah, who also liked them as much as I.

I still vividly remember leaving Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries to small seas and steady winds. After the first hour, I found myself thinking this could be an easy three weeks. An hour later, as the seas and winds increased, I deployed one paravane stabilizer, another hour later, I deployed the second. We stayed in that configuration for the next three weeks.

It was anything but easy. The passage was characterized by three wave sets (swells).

Swell are longer period waves that develop when the wind blows over the ocean for long period of time. Thus, winds and storms, hundreds or thousands of miles away cause swell.

The primary wave set or swell was from the east, the second from the northeast and the third from the southeast. The third had the longest period (time between waves) of ?15+ seconds. The other two, were on the order of 9 to 12 seconds.

On top of this all, were the wind driven waves. These waves are created by the wind at that location and if the wind stops the waves stop also. These waves had a period of about 7 seconds.

The result of all this was that we had 12 to 15-foot waves from the east, right behind us. My Kadey Krogen loves following seas, but what made it so difficult was the other two swells with different periods hat produced a corkscrew movement. Then every 8 minutes or so, the NE and SE wave troughs would meet under the stern of Dauntless and we would do this wild corkscrew movement with first the bow pointing to heaven and then seconds later, twisting down.

It was a wonderful corkscrew if I was on a roller coaster.

Here are some videos of the experience:

 

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I love my boat so much.

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In the middle of the Atlantic,15 December 2016. The Kadey Krogen flag is now in tatters.

So that was my introduction to multiple swells. Oh, I had noticed it before in the north Atlantic, but I attributed to “rogue” waves and it was not so systematic as in the trade winds.

The result was best described by some sailors I met in Martinique who had just done the same crossing. They called it the bathtub, because the water was so disorganized.

Getting back to Windy.com, if you open the page, https://www.windy.com/21.576/-45.264/waves?waves,19.746,-41.594,5

On the far right, you can see the vertical column where “waves, swell, swell2 and swell3” can be chosen.

Looking at this data today, mid-March, it’s also apparent why the best time to cross this part of the Atlantic is in early winter, as the when we crossed in December, at least all the winds and waves had an easterly component. Now, you can see that there is a swell from the northwest, that must be very unpleasant.

 

 

The Plan Comes Together

So, after the two-week (for me) Tet Holiday, life is returning to normal. I was in the “country”. It wasn’t that conducive to writing blogs.

But I ate so well and the people are so incredible nice, former VC or not! It was both overwhelming and amazing, but this is a story for another time.

I think I finally have a plan to get Dauntless up the west coast, that I am comfortable with. Sometimes it seems like the plan comes together immediately, sometimes it takes a lot of time. The reality is that every plan takes a long time to gestate. Plans seem to come together immediately only when I’ve been thinking about them forever before putting pen to paper. However, in this case, I feel like I’ve been writing continuous plans since September, just to move Dauntless the 2200 miles to southern California.

25-Feb-18   2018 Option C  
07-May-18 Huatulco 0.0  Alloc 0 0  Running nm legs Hours in transit
12-May-18 P Roquita Island/Acapulco 1.8       5 49 5 245      245
15-May-18 P Zihuatenjo 0.8       3 37 3 110      110         355     355 61
18-May-18 P Caleta de Campos 0.6       3 27 3 80        80
20-May-18 P Cabeza Negra N 0.5       2 33 2 65        65
27-May-18 P Manzanillo 0.4       7 9 7 60        60         560     205 35
02-Jun-18 P PV 1.6       6 38 6 230      230
08-Jun-18 P Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas 1.4       6 33 6 200      200         990     430 74
20-Jun-18 P Cabo San Lucas 312 1.6     12 18 12 220      220      1,210     220 38
02-Sep-18 P Cabo San Lucas 312 0     74 0 74 0        –
12-Sep-18 P Turtle Bay 320 3     10 42 10 420      420      1,630     420 72
20-Sep-18 P Baja Calif Ensenada 340 2       8 38 8 300      300      1,930     300 51
26-Sep-18 P S.B. Channel Islands (SD +50) 310 2       6 47 6 280      280      2,210     280 48
13-Oct-18 P SF Bay 333 2     17 18 17 300      300      2,510     300 51

This assumes that the winds and seas are favorable only 25% of the time. E.g. it requires 74 hours (3 days) from  Manzanillo to Mazatlan, so I allocate at least 12 days to get there. Now, we understand that those 25% of times of favorable winds could take place in almost any combination. One day in four is the least likely, due to the nature of the synoptic weather pattern needed to disrupt the usual northwesterly winds. It’s more likely to be in chunks of 4 days out of 3 weeks or 6 days out of 5 weeks.

This means that I must have something I am not known for, patience. Even the word makes me cringe.

And even if I have a planned stop in XXX, as long as the winds stay nice, I need to keep moving north.

The intermediate places like Acapulco, etc. are possible stops if the weather turns unfavorable or whatever.

First goal is to get Dauntless to Baja California, preferably Cabo San Lucas or perhaps Ensenada, by mid-June. The fallback plan is to get at least to Mazatlán.  I have a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd that I’d really want to attend, however getting Dauntless north safely has to be my primary goal.

Once there, I’ll leave Dauntless for the two months in summer.

I need to re-arrange my affairs a bit and see some friends, so I’ll travel to Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco and Texas.

I also need to scout some possible locations in California for Dauntless for the winter 2018-2019. Cost and security are the primary considerations. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me directly. I’d appreciate the input.

I’ll then return to Vietnam for two months. I’ve accepted the fact that Trinh will not have a visa for anyplace this coming summer, so I’ll be working on 2019.

Retuning in September, I’ll spend 6 weeks getting her (Dauntless, not Trinh) to her winter haven in California.

This plan offers me safety in that I like traveling a bit off shore (as opposed to near coastal) and making the 2500 nm trip into chunks of miles and time that are doable, even if I have to do some parts alone.

I’d prefer to have some crew/help, 2 people, a couple, would be ideal, 1 or 3 would be good.

Tet – It’s Not Only a Holiday; It’s an Adventure

Yesterday as I was watching my girlfriend Trinh prepare the food at her grandmother’s grave, I realized how much my perspective has changed since crossing the Atlantic.

Food laid out at her grandmother’s grave

I accept a level of uncertainly, magnitudes above, what I would have been comfortable with even 10 years ago.

The cemetery is about 20 minutes from Trinh’s mother’s house, where we are staying these days of the Tet holiday. Trinh and her mother had been cooking all morning. Finally, they meticulously packed a large bad hat would sit between my legs in front of me on the motorbike.

We set off. I had been to the gravesite two days previously, so I thought I knew what was going to happen.  Upon arrival, I see the box of cookies we had left the previous visit. Obviously, her grandmother hadn’t eaten any. Yes, I was being flippant.

Incense was still burning; Trinh mentioned that her step-brother, must have just been here. I never knew she had a step brother, but what the hell, I’ve only known her for little more than a year!

Trinh proceeded to unpack the bag, which contained not only food, but plates, utensils, clothes and even money. When you’re dead who knows when you may need extra cash.

In spite of my flippancy, I really like, respect the Asian reverence for the dead and elderly. It was one of the differences (in my mind) between western and Asian cultures and a reason I became so attracted to first Korean and now Vietnamese culture.

After 15 minutes, Trinh was putting the final touches on the dinner. I watched as she meticulously spooned a little fish sauce seasoning on the two main plates, a tuna steak and a plate of sautéed squid. Looked so good, I thought it a shame to waste.  Knowing the Vietnamese don’t waste anything, I was surprised.

She poured little glasses of wine and water, giving the old water to the potted plants, and refilling the glasses with fresh water.

When everything was done, she lit the incense and did her little prayer ritual.

Then, just as I was thinking we were ready to leave, she started to undo all the work of the last 15 minutes by putting all the food back in the containers it had come it. Nothing wasted, even the little sauce, went back into its’ little bag.

(two short videos of her getting it ready, then putting it back)

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Putting it all back

Surprised? Not really, more like bemused. After my first Atlantic crossing, I learned to not be surprised at anything. I also learned to not complain about anything. When I dared complain about the 12-foot waves, they became 18 feet.

Mother Nature taught me as only she can: Be grateful for what you have, because it can always be worse.

Oh, I can still be as miserable as I want or as the situation dictates, I just can’t express how bad it is. Can’t even think it, for who knows who is reading your thoughts nowadays.

Those three storms, each a day apart, in the North Atlantic in the last week of August 2014, re-forged my brain.

New Yorkers grow up in a culture of excellence. That’s because we complain about anything that isn’t top notch, price notwithstanding. As teacher, then principal, I took that attitude with me. I did what was best for the students and built the teachers into a successful team. I complained to the powers to be about policies and procedures that were not conducive to student learning. I was listened to. While we had a reform minded Chancellor, that was very effective; but as soon as that Chancellor left, the reactionaries returned and I was out within 6 months. My only crime was my naivety that results (graduation rate from 40% to 70% in 4 years) would speak for themselves.

Food, money, wine, water, clothes and of course money (in USD of course)

Dauntless was the crucible that helped me through that abrupt change in life.

Three years later, on the North Atlantic, heading to Ireland, this was the forge. I would become accepting of what is or else. Now, this doesn’t mean I accept just anything. More than ever it simply means that if I’m not happy with a place or situation, I need to not be there or accept that I can’t change it.

Thirty minutes after arrival at her grandmother’s grave, now, really ready to leave, I still had to ask, with a little smile on my face, but what happens if she is still hungry? Trinh answered deadpan, “she ate”.

That was that. I knew what we were having for dinner and it was quite tasty, though the tuna was a bit drier than normal!

The North Atlantic taught me not to complain; to accept. The North Atlantic opened me to the possibility to be in an Asian culture in which even when I think I understand, I don’t.

I watch, observe, but don’t judge. I assume I don’t understand the full situation at any given time. I keep my questions simple, where do you want me, when?

I never ask why. Like waves on the ocean, it is, what it is, could be better, could be worse. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else, but don’t try to change it.

What I Need

As spring gets closer and closer, I’m watching the weather daily.  I know what I want, but the light wind conditions may only last a couple of days, while I need a week plus.

In the last weeks, the more I have thought of this, the more I am thinking of getting north as best I can, probably well offshore.

Offshore solves a number of issues for me:

  • I like the open ocean
  • far less fishing activities, like boats and nets
  • more sea room, if I need to run before the storm (this is always a consideation in my planning)
  • getting big chunks of distance done in a short time, 3 days = 500 nm
  • did I say I like the ocean

I like the GUI and data presentation of Windyty.com, so all the maps I show are from them and when I do look at weather, I look at them before anything else. This is what a great case looks like. How long it will last? Not long enough, but a few days, then with a low pressure system developing further west, would give me favorable winds for the second of two 3-day periods (the steaming distance between Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas is 900 nm or 6 days.

Now this looks great. Too bad it will last a day or two and I need 9!

This case though is far more typical, with NW winds >15 knots, even more so in the summer than now.

N NW winds = NO GO

Curiosity

As I flit from place to place, I wonder what drives me. After all, crossing oceans, flying from continent to continent, costs time and money.

View of the Dolomites from Budoia, Pordenone, Italy, Christmas 2017
Budoia, Pordenone, Italy, Christmas 2017

Is it worth it?” I’ve asked myself that question many times, not only since Dauntless entered my life but well before it.

Bahia Guacamaya

In the summer of 1970, I worked driving a cab in New York. Coming home day after day covered in sweat, dust and grime, in the days before air conditioning. But at the end of that long, hot, humid and dirty summer, having survived not only the weather and the traffic, but the escalating crime in the City, I took my money and bought my first car.

Of course, it was a car my father recommended. He was a master a virtually anything he was interested in doing and cars were one of his interests, so there was no thought of getting anything but what he pointed out.

Northeast Italy, December 2017

Good move. My first car was ugly, like a box and battleship grey.  And only a week after getting it, I packed it up and stated the long, 3.000-mile, trip back to the University of Washington in Seattle, with nary a thought. My attitude has always been If other’s have done it, so can I.  Even then, the pattern of not stopping until late into the evening, running on fumes or taking “short cuts” was apparent.

Northeast Italy, December 2017

I never thought I was particularly brave, in fact, I knew I was pretty shy and afraid of the dark.

But that didn’t matter because there was always something new to see over the next hill or around the next curve.

The 21 days on the westward crossing last December were very similar, yet so different.

I looked forward to the day, the sunrise. What clouds would we have today? Rain or showers? The sky always had something new; something I hadn’t seen before. In my first Atlantic Passage in 2014, I had tried to avoid developing rain showers or thunderstorms. But in a boat going 6 knots, that is a futile gesture. Even more so, this last trip, I looked forward to the cleansing rain. I also didn’t want to upset the boat. She gets in a rhythm, let here stay in it without any major course changes.

The only thing I never liked was blue sky. My two years living in southern California were the worst, blue skies every day. I almost died of monotony.  Even now, on the boat, I see a building storm on the horizon and I can’t look away. I’m fixated, as if watching a beautiful woman get dressed, what will the final look be? But storms are even more interesting than people, because their lifetimes can be minutes or hours.

These days, visiting my friends in Italy and Holland, the first time seeing them since my Atlantic Passage last Christmas, I’ve been able to recount the story numerous times.

Many say how brave I am. But I know better; I’m not brave at all, I’m simply curious.

Always Forward

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself thinking about its beginning. Lying in bed on the morning of the first day of the new year, 1 January 2017, I luxuriated in being on a motionless bed. I thought about the last month. It was only a month ago, that I was waiting for the winds to die down so we could leave the harbor of Rabat, Morocco.

Dauntless has come so far

30 days and 3,000 miles later, we were in the New World. It was a much hard trip than I had hoped for. Watching the weather for months before our eventual departure, it was clear that the trade winds blew strong and steady from Africa all the way through the Caribbean to Central America.

I’d been hoping that I could stay in the band of lighter winds just north of the trades. It was not to be. Within hours of leaving Europe and the Canary Islands, we got hit by easterly winds for 20 to 30 knots. I wasn’t worried about Dauntless, she was made for following seas like this, but it did occur to me that these conditions meant there was no turning back.

That’s a sobering thought.  In the Mid-Atlantic, with such strong winds behind us, we had to head west one way or another.  There is no turning back. 200 miles west of the Canaries, no matter the issue, no fuel, no water, forgot to turn off the lights at home, no matter; one way or another you’re going west.

Always forward.

On a somewhat related note, here are a few Delta Airlines commericals that I find very motivating: